David Schafer

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David Schafer/DSE
DSE, March 2013.jpg
DSE performing at Maté 3 at Invisible Dog, Brooklyn, NY; 2013.
BornAugust 1955
Kansas City, MO
EducationUniversity of Texas, Austin; University of Missouri, Kansas City; Kansas City Art Institute
Known forSculpture, Sound Art, Noise Music, Performance
AwardsNational Endowment for the Arts, 1990

David Schafer (born 1955) is an American visual artist and sound artist based in Los Angeles, CA. He attended Kansas City Art Institute, Missouri from 1973–75, received a B.A. from the University of Missouri–Kansas City in 1979 and an M.F.A. in Sculpture from the University of Texas at Austin in 1983.

Schafer works across multiple platforms of production including collaborations with architects, graphic designers, voice actors, digital engineers, fabricators, and sound studios. Schafer’s work is driven by a wide range of theoretical and personal references, which manifests mostly around the idea of site, language, and the built environment. Appropriating from the vocabulary and motifs of Modernism, and an array of idiosyncratic subjects from popular culture and theory, Schafer develops projects that are sculptural as well as text, graphic, and sound based. Schafer’s work intertwines language with architectural form as a critical exercise of spatial grammar and narrative structures.


In 2010, he permanently installed “Separated United Forms” at the Huntington Hospital, Pasadena, CA, and participated in conjunction with the Whitney Biennial with “What Should a Museum Sound Like?”, a sound performance and sculpture. Schafer is currently a visiting assistant professor at University of California at Riverside and University of Southern California and was recently a visiting critic for the Cornell Art and Architecture Program in New York. He has previously taught at SVA, Cooper Union, Rutgers University, and Parsons The New School for Design and Otis College of Art and Design, Cal Arts, and Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles, California.

David Schafer performs under the moniker of DSE. This is also a platform for the production of and dissemination of electronic noise, processed recordings, live signal manipulation, no-input feedback, and voice. This includes live sound performances, collaborations, programming events, sound/transmission kiosks, and sculptures. Dissemination and emission of sonic material encompass multiple formats including; live radio transmission, mp3 download sites, CD’s, posters, records, and cassette formats. Utilizing both analogue and digital source material and processing techniques, DSE processes source material and data emphasizing an attack on the structural authority of intelligibility, in language and sonic/spatial orientation.

Focusing on the decay and mutability of signal, DSE performs both improvisational and composed events and works. Schafer has recently performed at LACE in Los Angeles, CA, and Roulette, in Brooklyn, NY. Between 2009-2011, Schafer was with the noise collective MDSE and performed at venues in and around New York. David Schafer is currently living and working in Los Angeles since 2012.


In addition to several public art projects, Schafer’s work has been shown in solo exhibitions at Shoshana Wayne Gallery, Santa Monica, Sara Meltzer Gallery, New York, Works on Paper, Inc, Los Angeles, and PS1, Long Island City, New York, Van Rooy Gallery, Netherlands.

His work has been presented in numerous group exhibitions including those at Lawrimore Project, Seattle, WA, The Sculpture Center, New York, The Brooklyn Museum of Art, NY, The Baltimore Museum of Art, Williamson Gallery, Art Center College of Design, Los Angeles, George Adams Gallery, New York, Artists Space], White Columns, The Drawing Center, New York, The Luckman Fine Arts Gallery, California State University, Long Beach Art Museum, Los Angeles, Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena, California, De Vleeshal, Netherlands.

In 2006, Schafer was awarded a One Percent for the Arts Commission for the Huntington Hospital in Pasadena, California, and in 1989, Schafer received an artist award in Sculpture from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Schafer’s work has been published in several exhibition catalogues as well as; Art issues, Flash Art, Sculpture Magazine, New Art Examiner, Art and Text, LA Weekly, Los Angeles Times, Art Papers, The New York Times, and The New Yorker. His sound works have been written about in New York Press, The Anti-Fun Magazine of Belgium, Cabinet Magazine and his own writings have appeared in Art Papers, X-tra, Cool and Strange Music Magazine, Exotica/Etcetera, The Journal of Aesthetics and Protest and Documents Journal.

Public projects[edit]

  • 2006 Separated United Forms, Huntington Memorial Out Patient Pavilion, Pasadena, California
  • 2004 Futureways-The Middelburg Triennial, De Vleeshal, Middelburg, the Netherlands
  • 2004 Treble, The Sculpture Center, LIC, New York
  • 2000 Cluster 38, KBond, Los Angeles, California
  • 1995 Reading Rooms, Lauren Wittels Gallery, New York City
  • 1993 New Century Trellis, Public Art Fund. MetroTech Center, Brooklyn, New York
  • 1993 Pastoral Mirage, Prospect Art Alliance, Prospect Park, Brooklyn, New York
  • 1991 Liberty Prop, Public Art Fund, City Hall Park, New York City, New York
  • 1989 Model Q, Sculpture Chicago, City Front Plaza, Chicago, Illinois
  • 1988 Plaza of the First Reader, Public Art Fund, Columbus Park, Brooklyn, New York
  • 1988 Outdoor Sculpture, Fulton Ferry State Park, Brooklyn, New York. Public Art Fund
  • 1988 Altered Sites, Fairmount Park, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

External links[edit]